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Kerry Washington Swears By This 3-Ingredient DIY Spray To Refresh Her Scalp

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and health. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Kerry Washington
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Kerry Washington's Beauty Secrets video with Vogue pulls out all the stops. No lie, I was practically drinking up the actress's tips to replicate her signature glow (note to self: She layers two shades of concealer under the eyes, balancing the bouncy light with a richer-toned hue). She details her affinity for eye patches, minimal brow routine, as well as how to master the perfect matte red lip.

Before all of that, though, Washington kicks off with hair care: "I like to use a scalp spray because sometimes when you're wearing protective styles like braids for a long time, your scalp can get a little itchy or have product buildup," she says. 

While there are market spritzes aplenty that promise a fresh and clean scalp, Washington swears by her own homemade tonic. Just three ingredients to invigorate the scalp, and you might already have them in your cupboard. 

How to make Washington's 3-ingredient scalp spray. 

Let's talk ingredients. For this scalp tonic, all you'll need is distilled water, witch hazel, and your essential oils of choice. Witch hazel is the workhorse here, as the botanical boasts anti-inflammatory and sebum-control properties to help clean and stimulate the scalp. As Washington mentioned, it's a great cleansing option for protective styles—those oil-controlling, anti-inflammatory properties can help stave off flakes and buildup while relieving any itchiness. "It's a mild scalp refresher," texture specialist and artistic director at Matrix Michelle O'Connor told mbg about witch hazel for hair.

Even better, Washington makes sure to choose an alcohol-free version to spray into her roots; alcohol can be harsh on the skin and disrupt its natural barrier and microbiome, which can lead to irritation. 

As for the EO's, Washington's partial to rosemary, eucalyptus, peppermint, and lavender, all of which have hair-healthy properties: Rosemary is linked to improving hair thickness; lavender can help protect your length; peppermint can promote blood circulation on the scalp; and eucalyptus has antifungal and antiseptic properties. "Also you become like a walking aromatherapy," Washington quips, which, of course, is a benefit in and of itself. 

Finally, the distilled water dilutes the solution a bit (in case full-on witch hazel is too astringent for your skin), so you can play around with those ratios depending on what your skin can handle. If you're a witch hazel novice, though, perhaps try this formulation: 

  • 1 cup witch hazel
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 2 to 4 drops total of essential oils (perhaps go easy on the EO's, just in case you're sensitive to those potent oils)

Combine it all in a spray bottle (she loves this Pattern Beauty Mist Spray Bottle created by curl-queen Tracee Ellis Ross), shake it up, and spray directly on your roots. After spritzing, Washington gently massages in the solution with her fingertips—this not only helps the product seep into the skin, but scalp massages can also encourage blood flow to the area, stimulate those hair follicles, and support healthy hair growth.

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The takeaway.

As Washington notes, this easy scalp spray leaves you with a fresh, clean feeling. Just remember: Witch hazel, unfortunately, is not for everyone. Especially if you have sensitive skin, the solution can cause some dryness or irritation. If that's the case for you, you may fare better with a much milder astringent, like rosewater. However, if witch hazel does work for your skin (see more details here), Washington's easy spritz is sublime.

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